Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city and has a rich cultural history, ranging back 2000 years to Roman times. You can easily spend a weekend or a few days there while travelling Germany. Here are five activities you should not miss when in Cologne:
1. Visit the cathedral
This one is obviously a must. The Cathedral is Cologne’s most prominent and famous landmark. Construction began in the 13th century but was not completed entirely until the 19th century. Cologne Cathedral is one the most important monuments of the Roman Catholic church and one of the largest cathedrals in the world by various standards. It is a Gothic church and contains the Shrine of the Three Kings, which holds the remains of the biblical Three Wise Men. Entrance to the church itself is free, guided tours cost five or six Euros (also available in English).
2. Take a stroll along the Rhine River
The Rhine River is Germany’s largest one and only a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral. Taking a stroll along the river is a great way to start exploring the city as you will pass a lot of typical architecture. The railroad bridge nearby is connected to an interesting custom as well: you will see a lot of locks attached to the wired fence separating railroad tracks from the pedestrian walkway. These are placed there by lovers who then throw the key into the river to vow eternal love.
3. Have a “Kölsch”
“Kölsch” is the beer of Cologne, and not only because Cologne is the place where this kind of brew originated. Until today there is a law that only this type of beer brewed in Cologne may be called Kölsch. If it was brewed elsewhere it may not carry that title. Kölsch is a bright and clear brew, which is rather sweet than bitter. You can have one at any of the local pubs, restaurants or breweries.
4. Climb the cathedral tower
This should be put as a separate activity since it will easily take you two hours altogether to climb the more than 500 steps to the top of the tower, take a good look around and then begin your descent. You should be physically fit to do the climb, because it is quite steep and there are no elevators of course. From the top of the tower you are granted a great view over the entire city and surrounding area. You will also pass through the bell chamber on your way up. Entrance to the tower is two and half Euros.
5. Go shopping in Cologne’s “Hohe Straße”
Hohe Straße means High Street and is Cologne’s most frequented shopping street. Here you can find anything from cheap souvenirs to expensive jewellery. Or you can simply move with the waves of pedestrians passing through, while listening to the street musicians who usually play here in vast numbers.